Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Clinical rheumatology


GARDASIL (Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA) is a quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV4) vaccine. An epidemiological study was undertaken to evaluate concerns about the potential for HPV4 vaccination to induce serious autoimmune adverse events (SAAEs). The vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) database was examined for adverse event reports associated with vaccines administered from January 2006 through December 2012 to recipients between 18 and 39 years old with a listed residence in the USA and a specified female gender. It was observed that cases with the SAAE outcomes of gastroenteritis (odds ratio (OR) = 4.6, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 1.3-18.5), arthritis (OR = 2.5, 95 % CI = 1.4-4.3), systemic lupus erythematosus (OR = 5.3, 95 % CI = 1.5-20.5), vasculitis (OR = 4, 95 % CI = 1.01-16.4), alopecia (OR = 8.3, 95 % CI = 4.5-15.9), or CNS conditions (OR = 1.8, 95 % CI = 1.04-2.9) were significantly more likely than controls to have received HPV4 vaccine (median onset of SAAE symptoms from 6 to 55 days post-HPV4 vaccination). Cases with the outcomes of Guillain-Barre syndrome (OR = 0.75, 95 % CI = 0.42-1.3) or thrombocytopenia (OR = 1.3, 95 % CI = 0.48-3.5) were no more likely than controls to have received HPV4 vaccine. Cases with the general health outcomes of infection (OR = 0.72, 95 % CI = 0.27-1.7), conjunctivitis (OR = 0.88, 95 % CI = 0.29-2.7), or diarrhea (OR = 1.01, 95 % CI = 0.83-1.22) were no more likely than controls to have received HPV4 vaccine. Previous case series of SAAEs and biological plausibility support the observed results. Additional studies should be conducted to further evaluate the potential biological mechanisms involved in HPV4 vaccine-associated SAAEs in animal model systems, and to examine the potential epidemiological relationship between HPV4 vaccine-associated SAAEs in other databases and populations.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, HPV vaccine, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Lupus erythematosus, Antiphospholipid syndrome


This study aims to measure the serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) (25-OH-D(3)) in 302 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), studying the association to disease activity. Three hundred two RA patients underwent clinical examination and serological analysis. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D(3) was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Vitamin D(3) deficiency defined as serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) below 50 nmol/l was detected in 101 RA patients (33.4 %). There was no significant correlation between the serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) and Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28) (3w) score. In a subpopulation of RA patients with very low serum level of 25-OH-D(3) (≤15 nmol/l) (n = 15), there were significant differences compared to patients with normal 25-OH-D(3) (n = 200): higher percentage of patients with positive rheumatoid factor (100.0 versus 77.5 %; p = 0.05), higher CRP (28.7 versus 14.8 mg/l; p = 0.001), higher number of patients treated with at least three disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (40.0 versus 14.5 %; p = 0.02), higher number of patients with high disease activity DAS28 score of ≥5.1 (20.0 versus 4.5 %; p = 0.01), lower age (54.5 versus 64.0 years; p = 0.003) and shorter disease duration (5.1 versus 10.3 years; p = 0.06). Deficiency of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) was detected in 33.4 % of the RA patients. A subpopulation of patients with severe deficiency of vitamin D(3) serum level of ≤15 nmol/l was characterised by all being positive for rheumatoid factor, high percentage of patients with very high disease activity and high percentage of patients treated with at least three DMARDs.

Concepts: Immunology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Arthritis, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Rheumatoid factor


The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship of postural stability and sleep disorders in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Frequency of falls in the last 6 months in 48 fibromyalgia and 32 control subjects were recorded. Postural stability was assessed by static posturography device (Tetrax, Sunlight Medical Ltd., Israel). Functional assessment consisted of lower-body strength; one-leg stance test were applied to all subjects. Fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), sleep quality numeric rating scale (NRS), and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were inquired. The number of falls in the last 6 months was significantly higher in the fibromyalgia group. Mean total value of stability indexes was 201.7 ± 70.9 vs. 162.6 ± 29.6 in fibromyalgia and control subjects (p < 0.05). NRS and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were significantly higher in fibromyalgia patients. It was detected that there were significant relationships between fall risk and NRS scores (r = 0.565), and FIQ fatigue subscores (r = 0.560) (both p < 0.05). Worse postural performance and fall risk found in the fibromyalgia patients compared to controls were related with the sleep quality in the last 24 h and level of fatigue.

Concepts: Relationship, Sleep, Sleep deprivation, Assessment, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Index, Chronic fatigue syndrome


The objective of this study was to investigate the safety and efficacy of a dietary supplement, Arthrem, containing an extract from the medicinal plant Artemisia annua, on pain, stiffness, and functional limitation in osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip or knee. Forty-two patients were randomized to one of three groups (n = 14 in each group): 150-mg Artemisia annua extract (ART) twice daily (BD) (ART low dose), 300-mg ART BD (ART high dose), or placebo BD administered over 12 weeks. Efficacy was assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC®) and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain. Participants treated with ART low dose demonstrated significant improvement in WOMAC total scores from baseline to 12 weeks (mean change, -12.2; standard deviation, [SD] 13.84; p = 0.0159); improvement was not shown in the placebo group (mean change, -7.8; SD, 19.80; p = 0.1029). Statistically significant reductions were seen from baseline in the ART low-dose group for individual WOMAC components stiffness and physical function. VAS pain scores were statistically significantly reduced from baseline to 12 weeks in the ART low-dose group (mean change, -21.4 mm; SD, 23.48 mm; p = 0.0082) but not the placebo group (mean change, -11.5 mm; SD, 28.97 mm, p = 0.1757). No statistically significant changes occurred from baseline in the placebo or ART high-dose groups for any parameter. ART low dose was well tolerated. ART has potential as an anti-inflammatory/analgesic in OA. Treatment with ART 150 mg BD is associated with clinically relevant reductions in pain over 12 weeks. Further studies are warranted.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Statistics, Statistical significance, Dietary supplement, Placebo, Mean, Acupuncture, Standard deviation


This randomised feasibility study aimed to examine the clinical and biomechanical effects of functional foot orthoses (FFOs) in the treatment of midfoot osteoarthritis (OA) and the feasibility of conducting a full randomised controlled trial. Participants with painful, radiographically confirmed midfoot OA were recruited and randomised to receive either FFOs or a sham control orthosis. Feasibility measures included recruitment and attrition rates, practicality of blinding and adherence rates. Clinical outcome measures were: change from baseline to 12 weeks for severity of pain (numerical rating scale), foot function (Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index) and patient global impression of change scale. To investigate the biomechanical effect of foot orthoses, in-shoe foot kinematics and plantar pressures were evaluated at 12 weeks. Of the 119 participants screened, 37 were randomised and 33 completed the study (FFO = 18, sham = 15). Compliance with foot orthoses and blinding of the intervention was achieved in three quarters of the group. Both groups reported improvements in pain, function and global impression of change; the FFO group reporting greater improvements compared to the sham group. The biomechanical outcomes indicated the FFO group inverted the hindfoot and increased midfoot maximum plantar force compared to the sham group. The present findings suggest FFOs worn over 12 weeks may provide detectable clinical and biomechanical benefits compared to sham orthoses. This feasibility study provides useful clinical, biomechanical and statistical information for the design and implementation of a definitive randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of FFOs in treating painful midfoot OA.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Effectiveness, Foot, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical research, Acupuncture, Ankle-foot orthosis


Fibromyalgia is a clinical syndrome that currently does not have any specific pathological finding to aid in diagnosis. Therefore, fibromyalgia is most likely a heterogeneous group of diseases with similar symptoms. Identifying and understanding the pathological basis of fibromyalgia will allow physicians to better categorize patients, increasing prospective treatment options, and improving potential therapeutic endeavors. Recent work has demonstrated that approximately 50 % of patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia have damage to their small unmyelinated nerve fibers. A skin punch biopsy is a sensitive and specific diagnostic test for this damage as a reduction in nerve fiber density allows for the diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy. Small fiber neuropathy is a disease with symptoms similar to fibromyalgia, but it often has a definable etiology. Identifying small fiber neuropathy and its underlying cause in fibromyalgia patients provides them with a succinct diagnosis, increases treatment options, and facilitates more specific studies for future therapeutics.

Concepts: Nervous system, Medicine, Medical terms, Biopsy, Diagnosis, Pathology, Axon, Myelin


Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has been demonstrated to reduce symptom severity in conditions such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and complex regional pain syndrome. We review the evidence that LDN may operate as a novel anti-inflammatory agent in the central nervous system, via action on microglial cells. These effects may be unique to low dosages of naltrexone and appear to be entirely independent from naltrexone’s better-known activity on opioid receptors. As a daily oral therapy, LDN is inexpensive and well-tolerated. Despite initial promise of efficacy, the use of LDN for chronic disorders is still highly experimental. Published trials have low sample sizes, and few replications have been performed. We cover the typical usage of LDN in clinical trials, caveats to using the medication, and recommendations for future research and clinical work. LDN may represent one of the first glial cell modulators to be used for the management of chronic pain disorders.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Neuron, Pain, Myelin, Microglia, Chronic pain, Low dose naltrexone


This article critically reviews HPV vaccine serious adverse events described in pre-licensure randomized trials and in post-marketing case series. HPV vaccine randomized trials were identified in PubMed. Safety data were extracted. Post-marketing case series describing HPV immunization adverse events were reviewed. Most HPV vaccine randomized trials did not use inert placebo in the control group. Two of the largest randomized trials found significantly more severe adverse events in the tested HPV vaccine arm of the study. Compared to 2871 women receiving aluminum placebo, the group of 2881 women injected with the bivalent HPV vaccine had more deaths on follow-up (14 vs. 3, p = 0.012). Compared to 7078 girls injected with the 4-valent HPV vaccine, 7071 girls receiving the 9-valent dose had more serious systemic adverse events (3.3 vs. 2.6%, p = 0.01). For the 9-valent dose, our calculated number needed to seriously harm is 140 (95% CI, 796-53). The number needed to vaccinate is 1757 (95% CI, 131 to infinity). Practically, none of the serious adverse events occurring in any arm of both studies were judged to be vaccine-related. Pre-clinical trials, post-marketing case series, and the global drug adverse reaction database (VigiBase) describe similar post-HPV immunization symptom clusters. Two of the largest randomized HPV vaccine trials unveiled more severe adverse events in the tested HPV vaccine arm of the study. Nine-valent HPV vaccine has a worrisome number needed to vaccinate/number needed to harm quotient. Pre-clinical trials and post-marketing case series describe similar post-HPV immunization symptoms.

Concepts: Immune system, Human papillomavirus, HPV vaccine, Gardasil, Vaccine, Vaccination


Vaccination has been one of the most effective public health measures in the history of medicine. However, seemingly inexplicit adverse reactions have been described after the injection of the newer vaccines vs. human papillomavirus (HPV). The symptoms more often reported are chronic pain with paresthesias, headaches, fatigue, and orthostatic intolerance. Adverse reactions appear to be more frequent after HPV vaccination when compared to other type of immunizations. Different isolated cases and small series have described the development of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and fibromyalgia after HPV vaccination. These are illnesses often difficult to diagnose that have overlapping clinical features. Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction seems to play a major role in the pathogenesis of these syndromes. Also, small fiber neuropathy has been recently recognized in CRPS, POTS, and fibromyalgia. This article forwards the hypothesis that small fiber neuropathy and dysautonomia could be the common underlying pathogenesis to the group of rare, but severe reactions that follow HPV vaccination. Clinicians should be aware of the possible association between HPV vaccination and the development of these difficult to diagnose painful dysautonomic syndromes.

Concepts: Immune system, Human papillomavirus, HPV vaccine, Syndromes, Pain, Fibromyalgia, Orthostatic hypotension, Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome


The use of biotechnology-derived medicines has significantly increased in recent decades. Although biosimilars undergo rigorous characterization as well as clinical studies to document their safety and effectiveness, they are highly complex molecules and small changes in the purification and production process of a biosimilar can have major implications in its safety and effectiveness profile. In Latin America, regulatory authorities have begun to establish well-described and standardized pathways that permit a biosimilar to gain commercial licensure. In order to be certain that a biosimilar reaches its potential in ordinary clinical use, an intensive post-licensing monitoring system must be established since it is the only means to ascertain the true similarity between the original biologic and its biosimilar. Pharmacovigilance allows national authorities to determine a drug’s performance in the marketplace. An effective tracking and pharmacovigilance system for biological medicines has many steps and processes. To aid policy makers in Latin American in addressing the many issues surrounding the establishment of an effective pharmacovigilance system, the Americas Health Foundation convened a group of experts to discuss the topic and develop recommendations for implementation. The group discussed current challenges and gaps in pharmacovigilance in Latin America, paying close attention to the major issues associated with traceability and pharmacovigilance of biosimilars following their approval. The recommendations developed should enable countries to accurately document the safety and performance of a biosimilar as experienced by patients under real-life conditions and have a significant impact on the successful implementation of pharmacovigilance of biosimilars throughout the region.

Concepts: Clinical trial, United States, Spanish language, North America, Americas, Latin America, Nicaragua, Mexico City